Oh, yes! I’m proud! I’m proud of what I have achieved, of who I am, of what I had to overcome and got over with on my own. And I’m proud of my ancestors. I’m proud to be a fourth- generation engineer, following into my father’s, grandfather’s and great-grandfather’s footsteps. (Even though my Grandfather was a steel man and my father and I turned to refractories.) And also following into my Grandmother’s footsteps by teaching and tutoring throughout my university years. And why shouldn’t I be? There’s a little part of all of them in me, making me the person I am, influenced by lovely people who were not blood relatives but still close to our hearts. I’m proud of my education and the way my parents brought me up. To give me opportunities and diversified interests. Enjoying all kinds of sports (swimming, skiing, ice-skating, tennis, basketball, biking), the museums we visited together, the vacations, encouraging me to learn different languages and also use them, theatre, musicals, concerts … and the knowledge what’s right and wrong. To be polite (most of the time), to respect people (ditto) and stand up for those less fortunate. To appreciate the little things, to treasure them, to see beauty in the old and the new. And above all, the way my parents treated each other. With such role models, it’s even more difficult to find the “right one”. Especially thinking of my father, his humour, his interests in everything, his intelligence, just the way he was … respected and loved by everyone, in his private as well as in his professional life, it’s a hard path to follow. Particularly in today’s day and age.
Looking at old documents going back to the 18th century I wish I could go back in time to talk to my ancestors. And I wish I had been older by the time my grandparents died to talk to them about their past. The war. Their youth. Their lives. But … well, apart from certain topics which were never talked about, we were also too fearful to ask. And our visits too rare to discuss such matters, since we lived in Carinthia, and most of my relatives were back in Styria. And now it’s too late. All that’s left are photographs, Super 8 movies, some handwritten recipe books and my memories. And even those seem to vanish, the way they spoke, moved, typical characteristics and gestures, only being resurrected in my dreams. Or flashes in certain situations.
But, well, I guess I’m still lucky. To have at least as much as I have in ways of things to remember them by, moving pictures – which I’m busy digitalising right now – and photographs from the very early beginning of photography. Even of people I don’t know and never will. From before World War I, friends, acquaintances, family members long gone. And still never forgotten because they too are part of my life, being treasured, looked at and wondered who they were, how they lived and died.
So, yes, I’m proud of who I am. I’m proud that I care, that in so many ways I’m different. Always have been. An old soul, linked to my ancestors in every way possible.